Just before a scheduled vote, Chicago Public Schools officials withdrew plans to approve a $60.6 million contract for school cleaning and other facilities management work because the company set to be given the work has a poor history of protecting its janitors from sexual harassment, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned. GCA Educational Services Central States Inc. was being recommended for the lucrative, three-year deal to manage facilities services at 34 Chicago schools, including cleaning, which has become an issue amid reports of filthy schools. But at the same June 27 meeting at which the Chicago Board of Education was set to award the contract, Arnie Rivera, CPS’s chief operating officer, announced he was pulling the recommendation to hire GCA to oversee the work at a group of South Side schools where some of the worst problems were found during inspections for cleanliness.
… But the Sun-Times confirmed it was because GCA’s parent company, ABM Industries, Inc., has had a series of problems keeping its janitors safe on the job. … ABM was featured in the 2015 PBS “Frontline” documentary “Rape on the Night Shift” about women who were sexually harassed and assaulted while working as night janitors in California. Since 2000, ABM has been sued three times by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over such claims. While under a three-year consent decree that a judge signed in one of those cases, the company was sued again by three janitors in California who accused ABM of failing to do enough to keep them from being sexually harassed and assaulted at work. In the spring of 2017, more female janitors in California complained to the company that supervisors sexually harassed them, then sought help from the EEOC, according to the documentary. And GCA Service Group — which ABM bought in 2017 — had been sued in 2012 by a school janitor in Tennessee who said she was fired after reporting incidents to supervisors of sexual harassment and assault by a coworker. …
1 in 4 Chicago schools fails in new inspections spurred by dirty schools reports
Source: Lauren FitzPatrick, Chicago Sun-Times, July 3, 2018
Chicago Public Schools officials say their efforts to improve school cleanliness are working, but data they released late Tuesday showed that one in four schools still failed “blitz” inspections despite heightened awareness prompted by Chicago Sun-Times reports. Just ahead of the July 4 holiday, CPS released school-by-school summary results of inspections by central office staffers and employees of Aramark and SodexoMAGIC, which have major contracts to clean and oversee facilities services in the school system. …
CPS fails to count schools in janitorial contract, costing millions
Source: Lauren FitzPatrick, Chicago Sun-Times, April 12, 2018
It’s the latest wrinkle in a controversial contract to privatize custodial management with Aramark, which has faced sharp criticism for failing to keep schools clean. Aramark was supposed to save CPS $18 million this year. But the district understated the square footage that would need cleaning in its request for proposals, spokesman Bill McCaffrey said, at a cost of $7 million over the projected $64 million CPS expected to spend this year. … Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley sold the $260 million Aramark deal to the Board of Education and the public by saying it would free up principals from managing custodians, result in cleaner schools and save the cash-strapped district millions of dollars. Some of the savings was to come from layoffs of hundreds of custodians. But the district was on the hook for some $20 million more to Aramark than it promised, essentially wiping out the $18 million Cawley said the district would save in its first of three years, as first reported by WBEZ. …
CPS to spend additional $7M to hire 200 more custodians to tackle dirty schools
Source: Lauren FitzPatrick, Chicago Sun-Times, April 12, 2018
Two days before most of the school janitors’ union planned a strike vote, the union says Chicago Public Schools officials agreed Thursday to hire 200 more custodians to tackle dirty schools. … The Chicago Sun-Times has documented filthy conditions in schools where the custodians are managed by Aramark, a private contractor for CPS. Of 125 schools examined in “blitz” cleanliness inspections, 91 failed. Janitors have said they can’t keep up with cleaning schools because Aramark and another company that oversees additional facilities work, SodexoMAGIC, cut too many of them since taking over in 2014. They had asked for 500 more janitors to clean the schools. Two of them also accused their supervisors of cheating on the independent inspections CPS paid for to monitor the cleaning. CPS has since made changes to that inspection process and stepped into the recent negotiations between SEIU Local 1 and Aramark and SodexoMagic. …
CPS inspections ‘blitz’ finds rat droppings, bugs, filth in schools
Source: Lauren FitzPatrick, Chicago Sun-Times, February 28, 2018
The discovery of rats and rodent droppings throughout the building at Mollison Elementary School in Bronzeville and two failed health inspections there last fall prompted Chicago Public Schools officials to declare they were ordering an all-hands-on-deck series of inspections citywide. That “blitz” was supposed to inspect 220 schools to start, CPS said. But despite initially finding that problems such as rodent droppings, pest infestations, filthy food-preparation equipment, and bathrooms that were dirty, smelly and lacked hot water, CPS quietly halted the inspections before completing them all, records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times show — shortly after the newspaper requested information on the early results. CPS provided blitz reports from 125 facilities that show only 34 of those schools passed inspection by inspectors from the district’s facilities department and Aramark, the private company that manages the custodians and oversees food service. And not all of the schools that were re-inspected passed the second time around, according to hundreds of documents and photos taken at nine schools that were provided under the state’s public records act. …
CPS to lose more custodians later this month
Source: Lauren Fitz-Patrick, The Chicago Sun-Times, October 1, 2015
Another 61 privately employed custodians who work in Chicago Public Schools are about to lose their jobs cleaning schools, though the district says many of them will be hired back in other buildings. … Several hundred custodians have been laid off since the private company Aramark took over custodial management at CPS in 2014. The layoffs take effect Oct. 13 and the affected employees have been notified, according to their union, the Service Employees Union International Local 1. … CPS anticipates that more than half of the 61 will be immediately offered jobs elsewhere in CPS, leaving about 20 people out of work. CPS has about 1,800 privately employed custodians and 825 who are employed by the Chicago Board of Education.
Rahm’s privatization of school janitors is still a mess
Source: Ben Joravsky, Chicago Reader, June 4, 2015
For the last several months, teachers in Chicago have been doing two jobs for the price of one: instructing kids, and occasionally taking a moment to mop, scrub, or vacuum their dirty classrooms. The extra duties are the result of a $340 million privatization boondoggle from Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Among other things, it’s resulted in the Chicago Public Schools firing hundreds of janitors. Now teachers at Oriole Park elementary on the northwest side have decided to take matters into their own hands. They’ve filed a union grievance that, if successful, could force CPS to hire back some of the janitors. Apparently this is the state of things: to get CPS to clean its schools, teachers have to go all legal on them.
Chicago school cleaning contract millions over budget /Aramark has so far billed Chicago Public Schools $86 million for what was supposed to cost $64 million
Source: Becky Vevea, WBEZ, April 27, 2015
The promise of cleaner schools at a lower price has turned out to be just that — a promise. Chicago Public Schools’ three-year contract with Philadelphia-based Aramark to manage all school cleaning services is $22 million over budget, according to procurement and finance records obtained by WBEZ. Aramark has billed Chicago Public Schools $86 million for the first 11 months of its three-year contract. The first year price tag was initially set at $64 million….
CPS group rips ‘Magic’ custodian deal, contributions to Emanuel campaign
Source: Juan Perez Jr. and Cynthia Dizikes Chicago Tribune, March 19, 2015
The head of a Chicago Public Schools principals’ group again condemned privatized school custodian contracts Thursday, including an $80 million deal connected to NBA Hall of Famer Earvin “Magic” Johnson, another of whose firms has since donated $250,000 to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s campaign…. Principals and teachers have long complained about school cleanliness since the Emanuel-appointed school board overhauled how schools are cleaned with $340 million in custodial contracts awarded to the Aramark and SodexoMAGIC firms. SodexoMAGIC, one of Johnson’s companies, received an $80 million contract last year to conduct a trial program to take over custodial and facilities management services for a select group of CPS buildings. The administration said they’ve told the company to fix the problems….
Outsourced: Aramark’s Filthy Mishandling of Chicago’s Public Schools
Source: Carol Caref, Jordan Conwell and Sarah Hainds, Chicago Teachers Union, September 2014
From the summary:
….In June, 2014, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) e-mailed a survey to all of its members for whom an e-mail address was available. Over 1,000 responded to the survey and the vast majority was angry about this new outsourcing and very concerned about the health and safety of their schools. In general, concerns were raised about Aramark, but not Sodexomagic. Teachers did not blame the individual workers. They blamed CPS for outsourcing janitorial services to Aramark. They blamed CPS and Aramark for their mismanagement and for moving custodians with knowledge of a particular building to other buildings. These problems are related to CPS’ and Aramark’s stated goal of saving money by increasing staff productivity by 50%. In other words, they expect custodians to do 1.5 times as much work for less money. Because of cutbacks, 625 custodians are now responsible for cleaning 485 school buildings serving 307,110 students. Any potential cost-savings is not worth the health and safety of these children. Aramark prides itself on having “expertise in providing custodial services,” but the survey responses indicate otherwise. Comparing before and after March 1, 2014, when the custodial services became outsourced, 74% of respondents said custodial service was worse and 72% said familiar custodians were no longer in their schools. …
Rahm to Aramark: Clean up the schools or clean out your desks
Source: Lauren FitzPatrick and Fran Spielman, Chicago Sun-Times, September 16, 2014
Responding to reports of filthy conditions inside Chicago Public Schools after privatizing janitorial management, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Aramark could “clean out the schools or they can clean out their desks and get out.”… Emanuel said Board President David Vitale has been in contact with the private management firm. Vitale and other board members had voted earlier this year to give Aramark a $260 million contract to manage the district’s custodians and cleaning supplies. …
Schools CEO: privatizing janitorial services not ‘as smooth as we would like’
Source: Becky Vevea, WBEZ, September 15, 2014
Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett admitted Monday that turning over management of school janitors to two private companies hasn’t been going very well. …. But so far, the outsourcing seems to have led to dirty schools, property damage, poor communication and janitors being laid off. Those complaints came to light in a survey of more than 230 principals conducted by the Administrators Alliance for Proven Policy and Legislation in Education, or AAPPLE, a member-driven arm of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association. …
Chicago Public Schools contractor to lay off 476 custodians
Source: Lauren Fitzpatrick And Matt McKinney, Chicago Sun-Times, September 14, 2014
The move to lay off nearly 500 privately contracted custodial workers who clean Chicago Public Schools will make it harder to keep classrooms tidy, the union representing the custodians said Sunday…. The Sun-Times reported Saturday that 476 custodians who clean Chicago Public Schools will lose their jobs at the end of the month…. The cuts come after CPS officials agreed to a $260 million contract in March with the firm Aramark, which used subcontractors to employ the custodial workers, CPS spokesman Bill McCaffrey said Saturday. CPS principals have complained about school cleanliness since the district privatized the janitorial services, according to a survey by AAPPLE, a new activist group under the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association….